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Taliban Aims To Restore Land To Afghan Sikhs, Hindus

There are several promising signs that the Taliban government in Afghanistan is taking steps to return land that was previously seized from the country’s Hindu and Sikh communities. This comes as a welcome development for these beleaguered religious minorities, who have faced immense persecution and displacement in recent years.

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Most notably, the Taliban’s Ministry of Justice has established a Land-Grabbing Prevention and Restitution Commission to investigate cases of land takeovers belonging to Hindu and Sikh communities across the Islamic Emirate. Suhail Shaheen, Head of the Taliban’s Political Office, confirmed that “a commission chaired by the Minister of Justice has been established to return to their owners all properties which warlords had usurped during the former regime.”

This effort is particularly significant given that much of this land was illegally seized by Taliban warlords during the group’s previous rule in Afghanistan. The displacement and dispossession of Hindus and Sikhs has been a longstanding issue, forcing many to flee the country altogether.

Narendra Singh Khalsa, the sole representative of Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan’s former parliament, has also recently returned to the country from Canada. His repatriation is seen as a meaningful symbolic gesture, signalling the Taliban’s willingness to engage with the concerns of these minority communities.

Hindu and Sikh representatives have reportedly held numerous meetings with Taliban officials in Kabul over the past three years, pressing them to address the widespread usurpation of their lands and properties. These advocacy efforts appear to be yielding some results, with the Taliban now taking tangible steps to restore what was taken from them.

Indian officials have viewed this development as a positive gesture towards India, suggesting a potential thaw in relations between Kabul and New Delhi. The long-persecuted Hindu and Sikh minorities in Afghanistan may finally be seeing a glimmer of hope after facing waves of violence and displacement that decimated their once-vibrant communities.

However, significant challenges remain. The attacks on Afghanistan’s religious minorities, particularly the 2022 assault on a Sikh Gurdwara in Kabul claimed by ISIS, have continued to drive many of the last remaining Hindus and Sikhs out of the country. The Indian government has airlifted several batches of these Afghan minorities to safety in recent years.

Overall, the Taliban’s efforts to restore usurped land to its rightful Hindu and Sikh owners, coupled with the return of a critical community representative, offer cautious optimism that the plight of these beleaguered groups may be beginning to improve. But lasting peace and security for Afghanistan’s religious minorities will require sustained commitment and concrete actions from the Taliban government.

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